Morning JAVA: Are University Degrees Worth It?

Morning JAVA: Are University Degrees Worth It?

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I know a few people that went to University and got a degree. Most went on to become successful at their careers because they were wise to choose a field that would literally guarantee employment, such as a doctor or accountant. Unfortunately, there are many degrees that are, in my opinion, worthless. I know someone that got a Psychology degree after 4 years of study and even made it onto the Dean's list but 10 years later, still hasn't been able to find work in that field. This person did find work in a restaurant though. I don't think that would cover the tens of thousands in debt incurred at university.

Go back a few decades and you'll find a time when one could 'work' their way through university or college with a part time job at night and on weekends. Those were the good ol' days. Nowadays, after a 4 year stint in university, a student is then saddled with enormous amounts of debt in the tens of thousands of dollars. Far too many students (and their parents) end up with a 6 figure debt load.

Is it all really worth it? Giving 2, 3 or 4 years of your life to earn a degree in 'Humanities' is ultimately worthless if you want to find a job that pays well. What today's youth don't know is there was a time when employers footed the bill to train / educate prospective employees. If you got a low skill job and your employer needed new machinists, they'd post the job internally and if they couldn't find someone qualified, they'd choose the best candidates and train them on-site or send them to evening classes to earn a certificate and hone their skills. No one ended up saddled with debt, employees earned as they learned, employers saw productivity improve and everyone was satisfied with the way things were falling into place.


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That all changed when employers got greedy and decided that prospective hires should already have a diploma or degree before consideration. The last 25 years have seen a proliferation of university educated people entering the workforce who can't count or subtract simple numbers. What's 7 plus 4 minus 3? A university educated person might struggle to get the answer right. For me, the answer comes instantaneously (the answer is 8). Then, there's the writing and spelling. "I should of known better" won't win you any accolades!

Employers no longer willing to assume the cost of training have seen productivity and quality slide. In the last few years, they've been more concerned with DEI and ESG, both of which are now clear failures and it serves them right. We see incompetence everywhere these days. Nothing could be more terrifying than being in a passenger plane thousands of feet up in the air and watch as parts begin to fall off because they weren't bolted down properly, by... 'someone'.

I believe the best route to go down is to learn a trade. When I graduated high school, I didn't go directly to college. I followed an older brother into the construction trades. I learned framing, roofing, installing siding, soffit, facia and eavestroughs. I installed windows and flooring. I learned all of this on the job. I was paid as I learned. I still have these skills with me today and it came in handy when just two years ago, I replaced the soffit and facia on my house all by myself, saving $thousands$ on labor costs in the process.

Learning to operate heavy machinery such as a back hoe or front loader can reap excellent rewards. The training doesn't take years. A back hoe operator certificate training program in British Columbia takes a whopping 8 hours and the cost is a paltry $1,950 to $2,300. Back hoe operators are in high demand and you're literally guaranteed to find a job. Depending on your on-the-job experience, a back hoe operator can expect $21 to start and quickly work their way up to about $42 per hour. That sounds appealing to me. If you learn to operate other heavy machinery, those wages are going up!

There are many roads to choose in life with many of these roads filled with potholes / pitfalls. We may not be able to see into the future but we can look around us and see who has gone down this or that road and compare results. You might be surprised to find out that those who chose to learn real life skills were far more successful than those with diplomas and degrees.

Before World War Two, rarely anyone had a college or university education, let a long a high school diploma. The goal was to learn a skill and maybe another as something to fall back on. These days, there's talk of eliminating crushing student debt with taxpayer money which I believe is NOT the solution. The solution is to stop giving ridiculous sums of money for an education that not only robs you of up to four years of 'work and earn' in the prime of your life but then leaves you saddled with so much debt that's comparable to a mortgage and, like a ball and chain, holds you down as you cannot claim bankruptcy for that student debt.

There are all sorts of trades you can learn for a fraction of university costs. An experienced welder can earn $42 an hour. Consider the machining trades. Consider learning residential / commercial painting or HVAC or gas fitter. All of these jobs are in high demand but I'm sorry, we're not hiring anytime soon for our 'Humanities' department as we don't have one because it serves us no purpose!

What do you think about Uni or college degrees? Are they worth it? Do you have a degree that turned out to be worthless? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

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Name's Joe and I live in Ontario, Canada. I like writing on a wide variety of topics. I enjoy keeping track of markets, investing and commodities and the crypto sector. Also do some coding for web browsers.

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